I’m an Ultra Marathon Runner

IMG_5749

I can officially say that I am an Ultra Marathon runner!  I completed the Forget the PR 50k in just under 8 hours.  I spent the weeks leading up to the race training in the woods with friends and continued to doubt myself if I would be able to finish the 31 miles in the 10 hour time limit.  Our training runs were slow as I was learning how to navigate trails and tree limbs.  The weather was less than ideal when we were training, so as long as it wasn’t raining on race day, it was going to be insanely better than what we were used to at this time of year.

The morning of the race we picked up our bib numbers and had the pre-race meeting.  We collectively took the Special Olympics pledge as the race was benefiting that wonderful organization.  We all head out to the start line and at some point we were told to go, I didn’t head anything just saw people start to jog.  The race starts off a bit slow as you are running around a campground area before heading into what is called “Big Ass Hill.”  Excuse my language, but it literally has signs starting up the hill with those words.  NOTHING in my training runs had prepared me for this hill.  You think that when you’re almost to the top, you come to find out that you’ve only made it to the half way point.  As I was climbing the first time, I kept thinking to myself, “how in the world am I going to climb this hill a second time more than half way through the race?”

IMG_5741

I picked up a group of runners to pace with and they pushed me through the beginning part of the race.  I love the downhills and can generally fly down them.  I did crash and burn on one downhill, I alerted the runners approaching behind me and yet the runner right after me (about a minute behind) fell in the exact same spot.  It’s always the little roots that get you.  The group I was running with for the first 19 miles would get a little lead on me on the uphills and I would catch up on the downs.  It was a nice balance.

At mile 19, we started the second loop.  At mile 22, we climb Big Ass Hill for a second time.  Seriously, what race director would do that to these runners?  I thought about crawling up the hill because some how that seemed like it may be a faster option.  I made it up that insane hill for a second time.  The group I was originally running with left the aid station before I did so I picked up a new friend.  This guy can only be known as pajama guy.  He started the race in red long johns and a fur hat (he ditched the outfit when the temps reached the 60s).  I had told him it was my first ultra and that I was fairly new to trail racing in general.  He stuck with me for the remaining 11 miles.  It was another story of he’d push ahead on the uphills and I’d catch up on the downhills.  He was constantly giving me encouraging words and advice.

The final five miles were the most challenging.  Not because I was tired, I was.  I had developed a large blister on the ball of my left foot.  I had never experienced that with my training runs and I could really feel it on the downhills.  My strength was inevitably taken away from me. I walked a lot more during the last 5 miles than I would have liked. I know I will need to do something to prevent blisters during my 50 miler.  I need my downhill running!

I finished the race (31.6 miles) in 7:58:52 with friends and family waiting at the finish line.  I thanked Pajama guy and two others that were with us as they motivated and pushed me during the last 11 miles.  The race director came over and shook my hand as he gave me the buckle.  I signed the pole holding the finish line like all first time 50k finishers and officially got a PR!

IMG_5750

Run Happy Friends

IMG_5751

50k Finishers!

Advertisements

Count Down to First Ultra!

It has been so long since I’ve written anything for this blog that I didn’t even know how to come back to it.  I’d been thinking about it for the past two months as I’ve prepared and trained for my first ultra marathon.  The thought of finding a way to segue seamlessly back into blogging without acknowledging my lack of posting was impossible.  I haven’t stopped training, watching my diet, and living the family life.  I stopped writing about it and letting others follow along my journey.

Over the past few months, myself and a running buddy have been working with a coach to prepare and train for the longest distances in our running career.  Next weekend we will toe the line for our first ultramarathon.  We chose a 50k race that was aptly named Forget the PR.  As long as we cross the finish line in the 10 hour cutoff, then it will be a PR for both of us.  Then 10 weeks later we will toe the line for our first 50 miler at the same location.  We have spent hours upon hours each week making sure we hit all of our training runs and put forth our best effort in seriously horrible weather.  We’ve scouted and trained on trails that would help us prepare for the over 4,000 feet of elevation gain we would be facing.  We quickly found out that we actually live in a fairly flat area based on our garmin and strava data.

Trail running is a different beast.  The ice and snow were a challenge in the beginning because it was winter in Ohio.  As Spring reared its head in March, it gave way to mud pits that could suck your shoe right off if you didn’t have them tied tight enough.  We practiced a ton of creek crossings to get our feet used to the moisture we are sure to face during both ultras.  In one training run alone we had 15 crossings just going in one direction.  We had to turn around and cross each one of those creeks again to get back to the car.  It was fun, exciting, and extremely exhausting.  But, each week we gathered some friends and set off to obtain our mileage goal no matter how long it took us.

This week is a nice fun taper and I’m sure I’ll be more and more anxious as Saturday approaches.  I know that we are ready and definitely prepared for the worst conditions possible.  I am not out there to set any records or to try and win it all.  My goal is to beat the cutoff and take some fun pictures in the process.  If you have run any of my training runs with me, Thank you! Thank you for pushing me and helping me achieve my goals.  Thank you to my family for letting me run away on Saturdays to spend countless hours in the woods.  Thank you to my mom who will be driving and supporting me for my first Ultra.  Thank you to my coach for creating a positive experience and giving me the confidence that I can do this and that I am ready to tackle this race.  Finally, thank you to my running buddy for putting up with my complaining of uphills, sore muscles, just plain grumpiness but most of all having lots of fun while training!  We’ve got this!

Bobcat Trail Half Marathon

IMG_4487

A small portion of the lake we were running around

This past weekend I celebrated my birthday by running my first trail race.  I had set out months in advance to complete a race on my birthday since it fell on a weekend.  The only trail race I could find within a decent driving distance was the Bobcat, so I registered and never looked back.  I knew that the weather could be absolutely horrendous, but that didn’t stop me.  I wanted to have some fun and I wanted my husband and kids to be at the finish line when I was done.

The night before the race, the kids and I drove down to meet my husband at his work so the kids could see the big trucks.  Then we met some friends for dinner.  As we were driving on some very dark and twisty roads, we learned that our son gets car sick.  So, pulling over, we striped him down, wiped him up and cleaned the car seat as best we could.  Then we were back on our way to the lodge.  I packed up my gear for the morning in hopes that I wouldn’t wake everyone up, but our son was up before my alarm even went off in the morning.

IMG_4490

My running buddies for Bobcat!

My friends and I had decided to hit the morning shuttle because the emails leading up to race day made it look like the shuttle would be full of people and we may have a hard time getting a spot.  So, we opted to take the early shuttle and arrive to the start location an hour before we needed to be there.  By doing this, we were going to need to stay warm and brought extra gear that we could through in our drop bags before the start of the race.  Just incase you are considering running the bobcat, you don’t need to take the early shuttle.  The second shuttle had just as many as the first- maybe even less.  There were only 5 people that took the shuttle in the first trip *whomp whomp whomp*

At the start of the race we were given directions and then the bell was sounded to start.  The first half mile was on a road before we meet our first hill.  This hill was the start of a muddy mess.  It was slick, but I made it to the top (walking of course).  Once we hit the trail it was single track and fairly narrow.  But, it was just slippery and muddy that even on the down hills you had to take them slow or you would lose your footing.  This was the first 5 miles.  There were lots of puddles, lots of mud suctioning off shoes, and lots of people falling.  Luckily I didn’t fall or lose at shoe.  But, I hit the aid station at mile 5 and the volunteers were telling everyone that we were at the water crossing.  I was prepared for the water crossing and assumed it would be fairly deep based on the  amount of rain that we had in the week leading up to the race.  But, this was a river.  There was a guy helping people into the water, but eventually he was getting too cold and decided to move on with his own race (I can’t blame him).  He told myself and the person in front of me that it was just a step down.  So, she stepped down and moved out of the way.  Then I go to step down and completely fall in.  Did I mention it was 29 degrees that morning and the water was COLD?  I stood up and acknowledged that I was ok, but also let the guy know that it wasn’t just a step down.  What could I do?  So, I just moved on and kept going forward.

The last 8 miles were less mud but a lot more hills.  I did my best to power hike the hills, but this will definitely be the area I focus on for the 50k and 50 miler that I will complete in 2019.  Around mile 10.5 my husband sent me a text to see where I was at in the race.  My phone was drained from the tracking app, so I had to shut it down.  It took me nearly 3 minutes to respond to that message and I got really cold.  I decided I wasn’t going to stop again for a text or phone call (sorry mom).  I wanted to finish this race and get warm!

After three hours and twenty minutes, I crossed the finish line and was greeted by my husband and kiddos.  Before we walked back into the lodge so that I could change, I tried to remove my shoes.  But, the laces were frozen and I couldn’t get my right shoe off of my foot without a struggle.  I went right in to change into warmer clothes and attempt to heat up.

My preparation for this race was the same as my other half marathons this year.  Only difference, those races were all completed on roads.  So, needless to say, I was under prepared. In fact, I felt completely out of shape as I was running.  I knew that there would be hills during the race, but apparently didn’t realize just how many hills I would have to concur.

Overall, this was a wonderful way to spend the first half of my birthday!  It was a great introduction to trail running and I definitely have things that I want to work on to improve.  I’m very thankful that my husband and kiddos were at the finish line to see me and celebrate with me.  I’m definitely looking forward to this year and what 2019 has in store for trail running!

Another Trip Around the Sun

In just a few days I will be another year older, hopefully a bit wiser and stronger.  This past year I really tried to regain some focus on myself and my mental health.  I had signed up to complete a half marathon a year in advance and when January came around I knew I had to start training.  So, let’s recap what 31 has looked like to me.

November and December are always a whirl wind of birthdays and holidays in our house.  That means lots of time spent with family and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I am truly blessed with such an amazing family and I tell people all the time.  I don’t take for granted what my family has done for me in the least.

run happy

Where it all started!

January and February, I finally started walking/jogging/and pretending to run again.  I hadn’t done anything since I was 4 months pregnant with Ben and at this point he was 15 months.  I spent 4 days a week in the basement on the treadmill binge watching Netflix.

March rolled around and I noticed a Facebook post inviting people to a training run for the Canton Marathon.  I wasn’t training for a marathon, but this would give me the opportunity to run with other people so I was so lonely.  This is when I met two people who were talking about a local running group called Run Happy.  I finished my lonely miles and found the group on Facebook later that day.  From that point on I joined a morning run group twice a week where I met more awesome people.

April was the start of the half marathons.  The race I had signed up for a year ago was finally just around the corner.  You can read more about that here.  I  was training with my running buddy and decided since I was already trained, I would run another half marathon two weeks later.  At the race expo I was talked into a third half just weeks after the second.  I was starting to binge sign up for races so to speak.  By the end of May I reached LifeTime status with Weight Watchers as well.  So, I was finally back to a healthy weight.

June, July and August are too hot for me to race.  I kept training with my running buddy as she prepared for a marathon.  I knew that it would help me with my half in September anyway so I wasn’t concerned.  I started watching YouTube videos and listening to podcasts about Ultra Running.  I was getting hooked and picked out a 50 miler to sign up for in a year.  *I mentally like to give myself plenty of time to panic and analyze my decisions in running.

September rolled around and I ran my 4th half marathon for the year and relayed a marathon with a bunch of Harry Potter fans I had never met.  By the end of September I had talked myself into running the full marathon with my running buddies.  There were a large number of members going to run this race and I remember the fun I had with the half marathon (not so many fond memories of the full).  So, in October, I toed the line and finished my second full marathon.

Just a few days later, myself and other Run Happy members raced to the ultra sign up webpage to register for a 50k.  This will be my first Ultra.  I’m still waiting for registration to open for the 50 miler, but when it does I will be registered day 1!

This year has been incredible.  I found joy in running again.  I was no longer training alone.  I was no longer stressing about running races by myself because I was almost sure I would know someone there at the starting line.  My family is happy and healthy and I get to share another year with all of them.  I am grateful for everyone in my life and the opportunities that I am given.  So, thank you to everyone who has shared a small part of this year with me and I look forward to what is to come.

Just to make sure I kick off my 32nd year right, I will be running my first trail half marathon with my running buddies on my birthday!  The Bobcat Trail half marathon is sure to be a muddy mess after all of the rain we’ve been experiencing.

As always, be confident, be fit, be you!

IMG_4399

T’was the week before marathon

Featured

T’was the week before marathon when runners were making final preparations.  The training is complete, the miles have been run.  It’s time to take faith that you can get it done! As I look back on the training, I am thankful for all the miles I was able to complete.  I can’t put myself down for only running 2- 20 mile distances.  I need to just relax and enjoy the day with my friends!

I have run Columbus one other time and it is my only marathon to date.  My training was extremely lonely.  I wasn’t running with anyone and didn’t even know running groups existed in my area.  My knee gave out in my training when I attempted my first 20 miler. I was never able to break that mileage distance in training due to my knee always causing me to stop short of my distance goal.  During the race I felt great, until I hit mile 18.  My knee pinched and I immediately had to stop.  I walked/limped in pain for 7 miles. I felt completely defeated.  I didn’t want to walk across the finish line, so I would jog for a minute, walk for a minute and repeat that cycle through the last mile.  When I crossed the finish line, I was in tears.  I was so upset with myself for not finishing the way I had hoped nor the way I had planned.  At that moment, I swore I would never run another marathon again.  I would stick to the half marathons.  After all, I like that distance.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Everything changed when I was introduced to my #RunHappy friends!  I started training with them for a half marathon that I had committed to a year in advance.  I was enjoying running again.  Fast forward and I completed 4 half marathons this year and was training with my friend to complete her marathon.  I completed some of her long runs with her and decided to just throw in the towel and run it with her.  I got a bib, ran another 20 miler in seriously gross weather conditions and started tapering.

Now, we are just 3 days away from lacing up our shoes, hitting the starting line and finishing another marathon.  The distance I swore I would never do again.  I’m not only going to toe the line and finish this thing, I’m going to do it with a lot more confidence than the first time.  I’m going to watch friends reach their goals and push their limits.  I’m going to cheer on those that finish at the back of the pack.  I’m going to enjoy race day in all its glory! Columbus truly has the most amazing crowd support and I am excited to have a better race experience.

Not only will I complete this marathon, I will complete my first ultra marathon next April!  I’ve already signed up for the Forget the PR 50K at Mohican State Park!

Look for my race report next week to hear all about Columbus!

Beginner Trail Running

A few months ago I decided that I would take on a trail run.  I researched races that would fall on my birthday and asked fellow running folks their thoughts and opinions.  I determined the Bobcat Trail half marathon was going to be my birthday present.  I love running on my birthday because I am grateful that I was able to run another year and spend another year with family and friends.  I am also crazy enough to run a 50 miler at Mohican next June with these crazy running friends.

Signing up for a race means you should prepare for the distance and the terrain.  If you know the race will be hilly, you need to practice hills.  If the race is going to be on trails and the most you’ve run is a towpath, you need to hit up some trails.  That is exactly what I did last weekend along with some fellow running friends.  We woke up and hit the road at 5:30am to arrive at Mohican Park by 7am.  By 7:20, everyone had stretched, hit up the bathroom and we’ve reviewed the trail map.  This bought us just enough time for the sun to come out and eliminate a need for headlamps or flashlights.

Just a few miles into our run we hit up the bike path.  The terrain quickly changed to rough, bumpy, and up and down hills.  It was AWESOME!  I was seeing how fast I could take the downhills without tripping over anything or mis-stepping.  The uphills, I walked or tried to jog here and there.  Although it had rained the day before, there weren’t many puddles or muddy spots to break in my Hoka Torrents.  They are still a bright orange with a tiny spec of dirt.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We passed a small waterfall and then a bigger waterfall, made a wrong turn and ended up back at the cars after 2 miles.  After checking the map and getting a quick bathroom trip in, we set off to do another 6 miles.  It was during this portion of the loop we were given more information about the Mohican 100 trail race and how the course logistics work out from a four time finisher.  We were running to the fire tower when someone questioned the distance.  It was at that point the maps came back out and we realized we missed our turn.  Uh-Oh, we just added an additional two miles.  Once we got to the fire tower some chose to climb the steps, I decided to rest my legs.  We started to contend with mountain bikers as they were getting a long ride in around the park.  After 10 miles, we made it back to our vehicles!  It was a fun day, I wasn’t sore and I didn’t fall once during this run or my first official trail run either, but there is always next time.  Don’t worry, I’m carrying a band-aid.  I did miss my long run for the weekend, so I will need to make that up with my marathon relay.

I have definitely found something that is challenging and exciting that I will pursue more next year!  I want to continue to explore new races to have new adventures.  Even while I’m writing this, I am receiving messages about other trail races that will be opening registration soon.  Running friends can be very persuasive.

Get out there with your friends and family and explore your national and state parks!  As always, be confident, be fit, be you!

 

Where does the time go?

When you were younger the adults in your life would say how “fast” life was going for them.  It isn’t until you hit a certain age or parenthood that you realize just how true that statement rings.  I haven’t had the time to sit down and write something that I felt would be worth while.  Time has gone by fast and lots of things have happened in the last five months.  Let’s talk racing and training!

February, March and April I spent preparing for a half marathon I had signed up for a year in advance.  Mid-April I ran the Athens Half Marathon and felt horrible.  The race didn’t go as planned and if it had rained the whole time, I would have quit half way through.  My first race back since before my second child and it was not picture perfect.  I needed a do-over.  I signed up for another half marathon right away that was just a month away.  I decided to just run that for fun and to help a fellow runner hit their PR.  Race day came and I was feeling pretty good.  Traffic was horrific and I was afraid I wouldn’t get to the start line in time before the gun went off.  Fast forward and my friend hit her PR!

 

At the Expo for the May race I decide to sign up for a 3rd half marathon just two weeks

129FE125-149F-4791-A692-BC6AF9118A58

Medina

after the second.  I’m already trained and ready to go, so why not?  The Medina half marathon course was also supposed to be for fun.  But, I was feeling good and thought I could hit a sub-2 hour time.  I have only hit that two other times and one was pre-baby number one and the other was post-baby number one.  It had been years!  Sadly I finished in 2:00:58.  Yes you read that right.  Just 59 seconds short of the sub-two hour time frame.

This prompted another half marathon sign up.  However, it is at the beginning of September, so I have been training hard.  My friend from the May race that PR’d signed up for the upcoming half as well as the Columbus Marathon.  I decided I would help her train and have gone a numerous long runs with her to help keep pace.  There are times when I felt like I have held her back, like that first 20 miler, but we keep moving forward!  To be honest, that is only the second time in my life I have run 20 miles.  The first time was the only time I attempted a Marathon.

IMG_3964

After a seriously long training run! We’re still smiling!

For the big finally to this post, I got into Trail running.  My hubby was listening to a podcast with Joe Rogan and he had Courtney Dauwalter on after completing the MOAB 240.  She not only kicked butt on the course, she beat the second person by 10 hours.  Over 240 miles she ran in 2 days, 9 hours and 59 minutes.  It was insane!  From there I went on my first trail run with my Run Happy friends and it was a completely different experience.  I started binge watching YouTube videos of trail and ultra running.  The pictures and views were incredible.  I was living vicariously through these other trail runners.  I decided to sign up for a trail race.  I asked the people of the inter webs just which races were worth completing in our area on my birthday.  That’s right, I wanted to spend my birthday out running in the woods!  I was directed to the BobCat Marathon and half marathon and decided to give it a go.  I’ve implemented hills into my workouts and have the full understanding that I will be much slower than a road race.  But, the views will be worth it!  With all this information and my obsession with podcasts and YouTube videos on ultra running, I have decided to sign up for a 50 mile race next June.  Yes, you read that right, 50 MILE trail race!  I have a few people interested in completing it with me and I’m excited to start some serious cross training.  Apparently there are some serious gains in elevation.

I’m excited for how this year has spiraled in my running journey.  The only few times I have flaked on a group run is when I wasn’t feeling well or my kids literally did not sleep the night before.  Other than that, I have gotten my butt out of bed in the 4 o’clock hour 5 days a week and on the weekends it is 5.  I’m staying healthy, meeting some incredibly nice people and enjoying running once again!

Until next time:

Be Confident! Be Fit! Be You!